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Ani's in Love... and so am I

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Don't call this a concert review because I am utterly and completely biased. I love Ani Difranco. I've loved her from the day I first laid eyes on her over 13 years ago and I hope to love her forever until the day I die. Last night's show at the Orpheum Theater was the thirteenth time I've seen her live, and now I love her even more.

It was a relief to see Ani back in her element, a small, intimate venue with good sound and a respectful crowd. There have been times over the past 10 years when she couldn't be heard over the screaming teenage girls and would look into the crowd somewhat disgusted and irritated, and just try to get through the show. Last night was different. She was enthusiastic, exuberant, and at times, brilliant.

Ani DiFranco has been performing and selling her music since 1990 under her own label, Righteous Babe Records. Her music over the years has been a reflection of the political landscape of America as well as the story of a woman coming of age, from a curious 18 year old bisexual girl in New York City to the more content and nurturing mother that she is today. This time around, Ani is most certainly in love.

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I have never turned to the irreverent little folk-singer for love songs or feel-good tunes, but last night she rocked a few of them with such sincerity and grace that the whole crowd couldn't help but smile and bask in her joy. Her giddiness translated in to jokes on stage, plenty of improv, and general hilarity. Few performers can connect with an audience the way Ani does, and last night's show was one of the first in several years where she was in the rare form we used to only see in small intimate venues 10 years ago. And it was awesome.

She played a range of songs, including one from her first album which debuted in 1990, and a number of new tunes as well. The highlight was a request from a very loud man in the back row, who asked nicely (and shouted please several times) for "Shameless." Ani complied, in good nature, and brought down the house as she rocked the hell out of that song. A standing ovation followed. The crowd was remarkably well-behaved, with tween screeching and whining kept to a minimum for most of the show. The complaints I have are so minor that I can't even make them funny, so I'll just leave them out for now.

Check the website for more tour info. There are still tickets left for tonight's show. I may just go back. Orpheum Theater, 8pm. See you there.

photo by malingering from the concert at the Avalon in 2005 because they didn't allow cameras at last night's show